Entering the week, Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus hadn’t played together since Miami, as Venus missed time due to an ankle injury. But that hasn’t stopped them from reaching their second ATP Masters 1000 final as a team.
Sixth seeds Klaasen and Venus battled past fifth seeds Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic 7-6(4), 4-6, 10-7 on Saturday to reach the championship match at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.
“First week back for me, so expectations this week, we were a little unsure how things were going to go,” Venus said. “But it’s been great being back on court with Raven and we’ve just been enjoying each match as it comes and we’re really excited to be in the final.”
It was a good change of fortune for the South African-Kiwi duo, which lost to Marach and Pavic in this year's BNP Paribas Open quarter-finals, a clash that also came down to a Match Tie-break.
“Once you get to this stage of a tournament, you figure both teams are playing well, and the last time we played we also met them deep in a tournament,” Klaasen said. “You keep fighting and when I lost my serve in the second set I was like, ‘Man, now this match is turning into something messy.’ But we stayed together as a team and we got the win today. It was nice.”
Klaasen and Venus, who qualified for the 2018 Nitto ATP Finals as a pair, have both won big titles before, with Klaasen owning two Masters 1000 titles (with Marcelo Melo and Rajeev Ram, respectively) and Venus triumphing at Roland Garros in 2017. But they will try to win their first Masters 1000 trophy together against top seeds Lukasz Kubot/Marcelo Melo or defending champions Juan Sebastian Cabal/Marcelo Melo.
“The funny thing about playing tennis is you always raise the bar and I think that would be sort of us reaching another team goal, doing something we haven’t done yet,” Klaasen said. “We’ll go out there tomorrow with a big desire to put on a good performance and leave it all out on court. It’s one of our goals and we look forward to tomorrow.”